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This post isn’t intended for anyone to feel sorry for me or for me to get attention. I truly want to share my issues with body image in an honest way. I don’t know if I have any bright or wonderful solutions for feeling better about body image. I wish I did, but honestly where I’m at right now has been pretty hard.
Over the past two years I’ve noticed my body gaining weight and even shifting my weight to new places. This didn’t come as a huge shock as I was switching into a less active lifestyle in my professional job where I sit in an office for a good 8 hours of the day. I am not dancing or being as active as I used to be in college. This is due in part to the pandemic in many ways as we didn’t have many places to go to. I felt pretty trapped in my house most days.
There was a good amount of time when I was doing yoga regularly during quarantine. But there came a time when classes were moved online again, and I had a hard time sticking with it. As much as I want to have the discipline to work out on my own I can’t quite figure out how to stick with it. I have all of the resources I need, I even had a gym membership that I forgot about for a while, and I still couldn’t bring myself to workout. I really didn’t know why that was either and felt like such a failure not being able to keep up with it.
I truly thrive in community and I realized I needed to be with people when working out. But, the pandemic really squashed my ability to stay active with other people… I tried to motivate myself through other means like buying shoes and requiring myself to work out for 30 days before I can wear them (I haven’t gotten to that mark yet). I got to a point where the ONLY thing I noticed about myself was the added fat on my face and how my pant size had gone up. Every day I would look at my body in the mirror and be so sad about what I saw.
I can imagine I am not the only person in this position. I have struggled with body image for as long as I can remember. I reflected recently that at every moment of my life I thought I was overweight. I don’t have many memories from my childhood where I felt comfortable in my own skin or felt like I was the “appropriate” weight. Being a dancer I was constantly faced with being on the “bigger” side and when I look back on that I’m shocked because I was a normal weight. But, I wasn’t skinny and that was the problem. A problem that I still feel to this day.
This past month these issues have resurfaced with a vengeance that really consumed me. I have wrestled and prayed over this, and I’ve tried so hard not to let this become an idol in my life. It recently became my only focus in February and I was mildly depressed about it. I was sleeping more and had little to no motivation to do things I normally enjoy. I didn’t write at all in February, and when I tried to force myself to it felt incredibly taxing. I cried to my husband a lot especially after I had to buy new pants in a bigger size because my old clothes were too small. I tried to distract myself from this pain, but it would keep coming back.
I finally forced myself to talk to my best friend about it and ask if I could go to the gym with her. I invested in a gym membership so I can go with her and told her about how I was feeling. I felt good after sharing my struggles and talked to one of my co-workers as well about how I was feeling.
Talking about these things didn’t solve the immediate problem I felt so keenly, but it did help me confess something that I held so close. I didn’t want people to know that I struggled, I didn’t want people to know that I felt so ashamed of myself, and I definitely felt the need to fix my problems quietly so no one would notice my “failures”. Talking about these things was humbling and therapeutic. I was able to say out loud the things I had a hard time admitting to myself in my brain. And it was good 🙂 Hard, but good.
I don’t have many answers beyond this, I wish it was easier to work through body image issues than it really is. It is tough work, it can be full of tears and mental struggles. Body image is something that can be this heavy feeling you carry daily and many times that you carry silently. But please, start by using your voice to start a conversation with someone. I would be honored to talk to you about body image struggles as I have felt them, but it is incredible to talk with someone close to you who knows you well and will know how to love and support you through that. Use your voice to process your feelings and your struggles! It can be so liberating.
I will continue to share my thoughts and feelings on this, but for today all I have is this small piece of the narrative. This small moment that I have felt before and come back to again and again. But, as I continue to work through these struggles I am committed to learning and growing and sharing as I go through them. I hope that this process and growth can be helpful for you. Because I would do anything to help reduce the amount of women who I know feel this same way. It’s a tough journey, but I’d love to walk it with you.